East Side residents ‘exhausted’ by inequality

The community is shaken by the supermarket massacre. Some are hopeful, others are skeptical that much will change as a result of the shooting.

Barricaded buildings.

Vacant lots.

Gun violence.

Lack of economic investment and jobs.

A unique grocery store where residents can buy quality food at affordable prices.

These are issues East Side residents have faced for years.

Following the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 10 people at the community’s only supermarket — the Tops store on Jefferson Avenue — locals who spoke with Investigative Post last week said they hoped the tragedy could bring good.

A vacant lot on Riley Street, next to Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue.

Hopeful, but not optimistic.

Several residents said they had heard the rhetoric of real change on the East Side before. They are still waiting.

“When something like this happens, it’s unfortunate that people don’t see anything change,” said Kendra Campbell, 33, a registered nurse and licensed real estate agent who helped distribute food to East Side residents at outside of the Hauts Store compound.

“I hope and pray that it will be something different this time,” she added.

Campbell said the area surrounding the Tops store was no stranger to violence.

Kendra Campbell

She pointed to a gated house on Riley Street, just opposite Tops, where Campbell said she had attended a party as a teenager. She said the party ended abruptly when someone with a gun started shooting at the building.

“There is another person with a gun at this point,” she said. “That’s the only thing that’s changed.”

Campbell noted that today the house sits empty, sitting next to a vacant lot. She said neglected properties like these are common on the East Side.

“This is a community that needs help – real help,” she said.

The lack of substantial change was a recurring theme among East Side residents who spoke with Investigative Post.

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While Mayor Byron Brown and other politicians have suggested that millions of public dollars spent on various initiatives have led to community improvements, residents said they don’t see it.

“Look around,” said Jeanetta Sullivan, owner of Pudgy Potatoes, a Buffalo restaurant business. “You can see it for yourself, all the abandoned buildings and the vacant lots and the houses and the houses that are boarded up. Look around. We are already in need.

Jeanetta Sullivan

Sullivan, 32, said the condition of the neighborhood surrounding her grandmother’s home on Butler Avenue has deteriorated.

“I really feel like we have to deal with the fact that the East Side of Buffalo is hurting. It’s been hurting for a long time.”

Although she remembers seeing former mayor Anthony Masiello at the local YMCA and other places on occasion, Sullivan said these days he felt Buffalo’s political leaders only came on the East Side than when they were seeking votes or being forced to respond to a tragedy like the shooting. at the peaks.

“We had so much empathy. Right now the community is really looking for real action,” Sullivan said.

Raynard and Pamela Scrivens, of Hickory Street, planned to go to the Tops store on the day of filming to buy ice cream. They said an unexpected visit from their son delayed the trip, preventing them from being in Tops when the shooter opened fire.

“When I heard about it, it was just surreal,” Pamela said. ” It’s always like that. You just can’t grab it.

Both Raynard and Pamela said the fact that Tops is the only grocery store in the area says a lot about conditions on the East Side.

Pamela and Raynard Scrivens

“It’s a desert as far as supermarkets go,” Raynard said.

Without Tops, Pamela said many residents would be forced to shop at area convenience stores where they would pay higher prices for lower quality food.

“That’s what they will be reduced to,” she said.

” That’s all we have. This is it,” she said, referring to the Tops store.

Rahsaan Delain is the Health Equity Project Coordinator at the Buffalo Community Health Center, which offers counseling sessions for East Side residents who were affected by the shooting.

Rahsan Delain

The 39-year-old said people were experiencing trauma, shock and “so much pain you can’t even imagine”.

Frequently asked question by advisers: why here and why us?

“As a black community, in many ways, we’re really not surprised because this has been a theme for us throughout our history,” he said.

For a community just beginning to retreat from the COVID-19 pandemic, Delain said the experience has been even more difficult.

“There are already inequalities and disparities in our community and this is just another success story,” he said.

Delain also said he thinks it says a lot about conditions on the East Side when you consider that it “had to fight people” just to get Tops to open a store in the neighborhood.

Although he said he sees evidence that public investment is starting to make a difference in the community, he thinks a lot more work is needed.

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“There just needs to be more,” he said. “It just has to be together and it has to really impact the people it needs to impact.”

“What I’ve heard from people is that when the cameras go away and the media go away, people will forget,” Delain added.

“I’ve also heard that people want a real change, a signature change.”

Carl Matthews, an elder at Fishers of Men Outreach Ministry on Bailey Avenue, said there was a wide range of emotions on the

Carl Matthews

East Side following the shooting. He said many people are extremely sad, others vindictive.

“People don’t really know how to feel,” he said.

How does Matthews feel?

In a word: “Sold out”.

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